King’s Day (Koningsdag) is the day on which Dutch people celebrate King Willem-Alexander’s birthday (April 27) and it’s a very, very big deal. People flock to the streets and canals in their thousands, dressed in orange to represent the House of Nassau to eat, drink and be merry.
There are plenty of things to do on King’s Day and the centre of Amsterdam will be completely closed off, even to private cars and public transport. So, at every turn there’s bound to be a street party or a bar packed with a lively crowd. You can just walk out into central Amsterdam and hop from bar to bar very easily.
What not to do
However, if you head to a street party then it’s important not to have more than one alcoholic drink in your possession or it could be confiscated. You should also make sure that if you’re caught short then you find a bathroom because it’s incredibly dangerous to try and use a canal as your bathroom (you would be surprised how many people try it).
In any case, the canals will be packed with people in boats, singing, dancing and having a great time. In our opinion it’s not the best way to experience King’s Day because the canals get so congested with traffic that people are often stuck in one spot for a long time, preventing them from going out and having fun in the street.
During the day
You’ll find stages with speakers and performers throughout the city, at Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein, Westerstraat in Jordaan, Nieuwmarkt, Marie Heineken Square and plenty of other locations. They’re completely free to attend and there will be bars on site (although they’re bound to be a bit pricey).
There will be two stages in Jordaan and the lineup is one of the best, making it a really popular spot on King’s Day. In fact, you might even have to wait to be let in if there are too many people in attendance, so get there early (12 pm) if you want to beat the crowds. Plus, you can enjoy the markets there and markets are a big thing on Koningsdag.
Celebrations incorporate all of Amsterdam and because the centre can get so busy there are plenty of markets and celebrations just outside of the centre. For example, you can head to Watergraafsmeer for Bredewegfestival. Here you’ll find live opera, music, food and a bar on the Bredeweg.
King’s Day is a national holiday so a lot of people will opt to go out the night before and celebrate. That way they don’t have to work with a hangover the next day. A lot of events will sell out very quickly but there are still tickets for some.
For example, you check out a huge party in Westergas – Koningsnacht op de Westergas 2023, plus the afterparty. The event is hosted by several big clubs and event organisers and will incorporate different rooms with a variety of genres between which you can flit in and out.
Loads of big names will be playing and you can check out the full lineup on the Facebook page. Make sure to get there early because advance tickets have aready sold out.